In addition to loving to try various nail polishes and painting techniques, I also enjoy occasionally doing gel nails (either with the addition of nail extensions or not). I have found that I can get a better result in the comfort of my own home, than I got MANY times at the salon. And, the wear is just as good, too.
I've tried both the gel products from Harmony - Gelish and the new line carried at Ulta - Red Carpet Nails. Hands down, I prefer the Gelish polish. It goes on more smoothly, lasts better and just looks better!
When I do a french manicure, I will typically add white tips prior to doing the gel (just looks much more 'clean' than anything I could paint on (or stamp on, I've tried doing the french stamps from Konad - I kinda stink at getting it lined up correctly)).
While you could certainly use just the foundation (base coat) and the top it off (clear top coat and final step), I like to use a middle layer of the Gelish Sheer Pink (as shown in photo above). There isn't a lot of color to it - but, I think that there is enough of a nice 'natural' pink to it, that it is worth it.
I started out doing my gel nails / gel polish with a cheap UV lamp - but, given how much I was using it, I decided to upgrade. The lamp that I use now, while not a top of the line / salon grade lamp, works great. This is the one that I purchased from Sally Beauty Supply.
I also do the gel polish quite a bit for my little girls - who are VERY rough with their manicures - as it is the only way for them to have a 'lasting' manicure. Even if I just polish their nails with regular polish, I will often top it off with the Gelish top coat for durability. As long as the regular nail polish is completely dry, it works great!